Consumer Expectations and the Future of Patient Engagement

Ric Sinclair headshoBy Ric Sinclair, VP of Product, ZirMed
Twitter: @Zirmed

Can you imagine what the “Terms and Conditions” would look like for a site where you agreed to a purchase up to and even beyond the limit of your credit card—with no idea what the purchase amount would ultimately be?

And more to the point, can you imagine anyone agreeing to them? Of course not.

The link between patient engagement and e-commerce
Optimizing patient engagement starts with understanding how e-commerce has reshaped consumer behavior and expectations.

To round out the above example: consumers don’t just prefer clear, straightforward pricing—they consider it a given as it underpins the e-commerce sites and apps they use in their day-to-day life. The idea that a provider can’t offer an accurate estimate of their financial responsibility is the height of absurdity in an era defined by buying online.

In the world of e-commerce, an example of personalization is serving the right ads to the right person at the right time or recommending the right additional item to pair with the one they just added to their shopping cart. In healthcare it might mean understanding a patient’s propensity to pay and getting out ahead of the risk of bad debt by providing financial counseling and payment plan options up front. Or identifying the patients who are least likely to come in for critical follow-up appointments and proactively conducting care outreach rather than waiting for missed appointments to trigger an alert.

Ironically, because the outdated norms and expectations in healthcare are so entrenched, providers must in many cases coach patients to adopt the very technologies they demand. Asking patients to access their records online or exchange electronic messages with their providers are but two high-visibility examples of the larger change that must take place behind the scenes, a change that patients will experience as an extension of the holistic shift toward personalization in their daily life.

Automation as a mechanism of personalization
Automation must be intelligent, with the ability to account and correct for the biases of self-reporting. For example, patients might say they prefer to receive an electronic statement—but if they never access that statement the systems must automatically and proactively drop the statement to paper rather than continue to send electronic reminders that go unread.

The boundaries of personalized healthcare are the boundaries of the patient experience—and with the right technology you can bring your patient engagement strategy to the patient level.

Without it, you are left with little option but trial and error and painting by broad brush—bucketing patients by best-guess and hoping the one they fall into works for them. Often it doesn’t. And when that happens, the patient is less likely to remain engaged, because they won’t even feel they’ve been recognized.

About the Author: Ric Sinclair is the Vice-President of product at ZirMed, a leading health information connectivity and management solutions company. In his role, Ric leads all aspects of product direction, management, design, and development. This article was originally published on ZirMed and is republished here with permission.